College planning has become a long and complex process that isn\u2019t anything like the way most parents remember applying to college. Teenagers today are forced to think about preparing for college much earlier in order to be competitive. To help you out, we spoke to the college planning experts at Class 101 Carmel who have helped hundreds of students reach their college goals. Check out the tips they shared on ways to navigate this daunting process and save money on college. Join Class 101\u2019s for their FREE Virtual Event: The 3 Trickiest FAFSA Questions Answered Tuesday, Tuesday Feb. 9 at 7:00PM Event: this is a FREE, covid-friendly event on Facebook Live Topic: The 3 Trickiest FAFSA Questions Answered When: February 9th at 7:00PM Link: https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/events\/257249899089793\/ Parents and students who attend will receive a FREE Class 101 service for one high school student valued at $275. Students will sit for a free practice SAT or ACT test with Class 101 to establish a baseline test score as well as receive a 1-hour follow-up consultation with a college advisor to review weaknesses and opportunities for improving their score. Early Engagement Early engagement is key. When it comes to maximizing college and scholarship opportunities, the earlier the better. Starting early gives students more time to make choices about selecting classes, working on grades and exploring college options. Class 101 owner, Randy Stegemoller, explained that this is the best approach for busy parents and students: \u201cWe find it\u2019s less stressful for everyone - parents and their children - when they can spread this out rather than cram everything into a few months at the end of junior year or the start of senior year.\u201d Randy recommends starting in 9th grade but works with students as early as 8th grade. Testing Although many colleges recently went test-optional due to Covid-19, testing is still an important part of applying to college. Plan ahead and sign-up early for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests to ensure your child gets a spot, which are currently limited. Testing early allows plenty of time to retest and work on improving scores through practice tests and coaching. Class 101 helps students identify specific testing weaknesses and then works to teach those skills and hone them in real-time practice tests. College Planner, Kara, told us, \u201cPeople are shocked when they see how we help improve test scores with time and coaching. One of our students is going tuition-free to his dream school after a 300-point increase.\u201d Making College Affordable College can be one of life\u2019s largest investments but it doesn\u2019t always have to be. Class 101 Carmel helps their students receive scholarships and encourages all parents to look for ways to reduce the cost of tuition. \u201cWe love to save parents money. It\u2019s important for families to consider their budget and make a plan to pay for college but we\u2019re also passionate about finding ways to make college the most affordable,\u201d explained Carmel Class 101 Office Manager Alyssa. To maximize scholarships and aid, Alyssa recommends working with an expert to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, researching colleges that offer scholarships that fit with your student\u2019s interests and abilities, and applying to local scholarships with tailored and personalized essays. College planning tips for high school students: \tClosely examine class selection. Know the specific classes needed for majors of interest. For example, engineering programs often want to see a higher-level math course taken. \tEstablish a baseline SAT and ACT test early. Then, work to improve and retest. A higher test score can save thousands of dollars in tuition. \tGet involved at school or in the community. How will your student make an impact throughout high school? \tStart visiting colleges early - there\u2019s no rule you have to wait until senior year! \tCovid-19 has changed the admissions landscape this year. Seniors should contact each college on their list to ask about any changes to the admissions or scholarship process. Visit Class 101's website and follow their blog for helpful college planning tips. Call 317-975-1012 to schedule a free consultation.